A year ago, I lost my wife of 16 years to cancer. "Ethel" and I didn't have a perfect marriage, but we worked at it. We both had grown children from first marriages. We also had a child together, a boy, "Ben," who is 13.
Last spring I began seeing a very nice lady I'll call Blanche. Ethel's daughters have little to do with me since their mother's death and are encouraging Ben to be rude and distant to Blanche. I realize Ben has issues, but I have tried to explain to him that life goes on. Blanche is not trying to replace his mother; she would like to be his friend.
My question is, when should I tell my in-laws about Blanche?
- Needs to Move on in Connecticut
Dear Needs: Ethel's daughters most likely have already told your in-laws about Blanche, so you should tell them the "news" now. If you don't, it will appear that you are sneaking around - and it's important not to create that impression. It may be painful for Ethel's relatives to hear, so don't be surprised if they are less than thrilled.
Family counseling might be helpful for you, your son, and Ethel's daughters if they are open to it. Should the "girls" refuse, go with Ben. He is still young, and he lost his mother at a time when he still needed her. You are probably further along in the grieving process than your son because you had a chance to grieve for your wife during her illness.
For Ben's sake, I hope you take your time before remarrying. He apparently needs more time to adjust and to understand that the new lady in your life is not a threat to his mother's memory.
A tough choice
Dear Abby: I met my biological father last June, after waiting 15 years to do so. His side of the family was very warm and welcoming. They treated me as though they had known me all my life. I was nervous about meeting them, so I took my boyfriend. They treated him like family too.
I have not told my mom that I went to see the other family, because she would no longer speak to me, and I don't want her mad at me. My parents had an extremely bitter divorce. Mom still holds a grudge, and she expects me to as well.
I am being married soon, and now I am being forced to choose between my mom and my biological father. I would like everyone to be there, and for my stepdad to walk me down the aisle. What should I do?
- In the Middle Out West
Dear in the Middle: It's time to grow up and tell your mother what you did. Although the divorce was devastating, you have the right to know your father and paternal relatives. Ask her, as her wedding gift to you, to bury her enmity for one day so you can have the wedding of your dreams. Many other families have done this, and the experience can be healing.